The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is backing teacher unions in the campaign to eliminate the costs for teachers on class placements that form a crucial part of their qualifications.
“Along with working part-time jobs, we’re hearing of some placements lasting 30 to 35 hours a week with no support for travel, food, or materials,” said USI president Michael Kerrigan.
“Students can’t cope with the cost of living without another job on top of this. The average cost of college is €12,500 a year, while students are paying the second-highest fees in the EU after the UK,” he said.
A survey to establish the extent of the problems for trainees is being carried out by the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) and Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI). They want to put the issues to Education Minister Richard Bruton, who is coming under further pressure to address the issue of equal pay for equal work for those who entered the profession since 2011.
The TUI this week followed the lead of INTO members by voting strongly to reject the latest public service pay deal, based on a recommendation of its leaders that was mainly concerned with the deal’s failure to end pay inequality within its three-year timeframe. The ASTI’s 180-member central executive council is recommending rejection of the deal by its membership in a forthcoming ballot.
Mr Bruton was described as out of touch by Labour education spokesperson, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, after suggesting that restoring pay equality would mean having to cut services for pupils with special needs, or resources to tackle educational disadvantage. The minister said this week that it would cost €250m a year to put teachers who started working from 2011 onward on the same pay as their longer-serving colleagues.